School nutrition programs around the country are tasked each day with feeding hundreds, even thousands of students. To make sure that they are fed nutritious meals made with high quality ingredients, school districts need to have a robust and powerful nutrition system that can easily handle their daily demands. The new school year begins on the heels of the expiration of the USDA nutrition waivers that kept so many programs afloat for the last couple of years. With this in mind, we worked with our expert team (former food service directors and staff) to develop these three key ideas. Growth is all about planning for this year with an eye to the future. (Is that a beanstalk we see growing out back?)
Plant Seeds for the Growth of Your School Nutrition Program
Discover More Time with Effective K‑12 Menu Planning in 2022
Cycle menus were standard operations in school nutrition programs for years. However, the challenges of the last two years have made that a thing of the past. It doesn’t mean that planning should be left behind entirely, though. With the right digital tools, you can make planning simple and efficient for you and your team. While it may seem counterintuitive, planning ahead can reduce stress for you and your team. Planning ahead:
- eliminates the risk of waiting until the last minute to plan your menu
- helps you stay on top of your inventory and, most importantly
- gives time back to your team, allowing them to address any unexpected challenges and come up with creative solutions.
Creativity Leads to Success and Continued Growth
Planting seeds for the growth of your school nutrition program can feel like a daunting task. This is especially true considering ongoing challenges such as supply chain issues and staff shortages. However, many districts across the country are implementing creative changes to continue, and even expand, their success. Implementing farm-to-table menus to use higher quality ingredients in meals, increasing meal prices to meet the demands of inflation, and establishing local partnerships with local restaurants and grocery stores are just a few of the ways that K‑12 districts are shifting to continue growing.
Boost your Program Through Word of Mouth Marketing
Your search for unique and creative ways to improve your K‑12 menu planning will inevitably lead to word of mouth marketing. Try new ideas to build buzz around your nutrition program. For example, involve students and their families in planning and sampling fun new menu items. Another proven tactic is marketing your school nutrition program like a restaurant. Create exciting social media posts with mouth-watering photographs and watch your program grow!
Your new local partnerships and marketing approaches will help you develop a more diverse program and ultimately lead to an increase in participation. What school district doesn’t want that?
Kick the School Year Off With Growth in Mind
With the possibility of more students than ever participating in your school nutrition program, keeping growth at the forefront of your planning is essential. Effective menu planning will free up time for you and your team to cultivate new partnerships, develop marketing approaches, and ultimately create a more diverse program.
Help your nutrition program blossom – access your copy of our Back to School Guide, Here We Grow Again, for more seeds of wisdom.